Wednesday, March 20, 2013

New nuclear power plant at Hinkley Point C is approved

The first of a planned new generation of nuclear power plants in the UK has been given approval.

Energy Secretary Ed Davey told MPs in the Commons that he was granting planning consent for French energy giant EDF to construct Hinkley Point C in Somerset.

The proposed £14bn power plant would be capable of powering five million homes.

Mr Davey said the project was "of crucial national importance" but environmental groups reacted angrily.


U.S.A. - Experts on Fukushima: It Can't Happen Here

A new analysis of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant meltdown caused by the Japanese earthquake and tsunami a year ago puts some of the blame on human error and regulatory oversight, but paints an optimistic picture of the safety of America's nuclear power plants.

The report, issued by the American Nuclear Society's special committee on Fukushima, says that the meltdown was caused by a "catastrophe of monumental, unanticipated proportions," but says the Japanese response is a "complex story of mismanagement, culture, and sometimes even simple errors in translation."

"Given the backdrop of the situation, mistakes related to Fukushima Daiichi certainly should have been expected," it says. "However, there were serious problems with accident management and with risk communication and crisis communication that need to be examined."

In a New York Times op-ed published Friday, James Acton and Mark Hibbs, senior associates in the nuclear policy program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, similarly condemned the Japanese response.

"The potential risks of tsunamis to nuclear power plants are well understood and a set of international standards has been developed to mitigate those risks," they wrote. "Despite Japan's history of tsunamis … Japan's nuclear regulator did not apply those standards."


India: Kudankulam nuclear power plant to be commissioned in May

New Delhi, Mar 20: The Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) has made it clear that the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project (KKNPP) cannot not be commissioned next month. 
V Narayanasamy, Minister of State in the Prime Minister's Office, had told the Lok Sabha that the reactors at the plant would be commercially operated in April. However, NPCIL said that Unit-1 of KKNPP can be commissioned only by May. 
As for the second unit, NPCIL indicated that it may be commissioned by the year end. This is not the first time that Narayanasamy had given a specific time frame for the commissioning. In Dec 2012, he informed the Lower House of Parliament that commercial operation of one of the two 1000 megawatt reactors would be possible within days. "There is no confusion or delay in commencing generation of power," he averred.

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Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Obama Energy Secretary Nominee Supportive of Nuclear Power

Ernest Moniz. Source: BRCOn Monday the president nominated a Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor and former member of the Blue Ribbon Commission on America's Nuclear Future to serve as the next secretary of energy.

If confirmed by the Senate, Ernest J. Moniz will replace outgoing Energy Secretary Steven Chu. While his background is outside of the nuclear power and waste management sectors that form a large part of DOE's work, Moniz has expressed his support for nuclear energy in the past.

He is a professor of physics and engineering systems at MIT, where he has been a member of the faculty since 1973 and also serves as the director of the university's Energy Initiative and Laboratory for Energy and the Environment. His past government appointments include a position as a DOE undersecretary from 1997 to 2001 and as an associate director for science in the Clinton administration's Office of Science and Technology Policy.